I wholeheartedly admire the *real deal* pastry chefs and candy makers out there. I haven’t the patience for the mandatory perfect timing and delicacy of their work, unfortunately. This is a skill and passion I’d like to cultivate, and taking classes for both are on my to-do list, for sure.
Truth be told, when I read a recipe that calls for any from-scratch dough beyond that of the biscuit or pie crust varieties, I move on. Similarly, when I see a candy recipe that requires a thermometer and constant stirring, I feel tired just reading about it.
|Photo by Maggie Kapustin|
In an effort to take a teeny, tiny baby step to begin changing my frame of mind, I tackled an easy chocolate and nut covered toffee from a Southern Living recipe book. If you aren’t familiar with recipes from Southern Living, I urge you to try a few. In my experience, they are consistently test-kitchen approved, home kitchen trustworthy and definitely as tasty as promised. I have this wonderful book, Southern Living: 1001 Ways to Cook Southern that I hope to eventually try, cover to cover, although 1001 recipes are a tall order!
At any rate, the toffee turned out delicious, despite my ancient and not-so-accurate candy thermometer, purchased second-hand and immediately stored in a drawer until a few weeks ago. When you try this one, make sure you have a working thermometer; they are a cheap investment and are so useful, particularly if you enjoy gifting friends and family with bite-sized holiday treats.
Give homemade toffee a try and see what you think, and please don’t be timid about it; I promise it’s as easy as the recipe promises! These crunchy candies comply with all of the “regulations for deliciousness” as stated in the Sweet Addicts Handbook (Gosh, I wish such a handbook existed!). That is to say, they are capable of sticking to your teeth for days, and they’re so sweet they’ll make those very same teeth ache, to be sure. I crumbled the last few chunks, as we neared the end of the tin, and used them as brownie sundae toppers, which I highly recommend.
Hazelnut Chocolate Covered Toffee
1½ cups chopped, toasted hazelnuts, divided
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 tbs. light corn syrup
1½ cups milk chocolate chips
Spread 1 cup of hazelnuts on a 9×9 (approximate) area of a lightly butter-greased baking sheet.
Bring sugar, butter, corn syrup, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture is golden brown and a candy thermometer reads 290-310 degrees (about 15-20 minutes).
Pour sugar mixture over hazelnuts on baking sheet.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips; let stand 30 seconds and gently spread melting morsels over top. Sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts.
Chill 1 hour. Break into rough pieces. Store in airtight container.
(Original recipe before modifications: Mildred’s Toffee, courtesy of Southern Living 1001 Ways to Cook Southern cookbook, 2010)